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Helmut Marko performs sudden U-turn as Red Bull boss left red-faced at Australian GP

VCARB driver Yuki Tsunoda issued the perfect response to Helmut Marko by finishing seventh at the Australian Grand Prix. In the same week that he was criticised by the Austrian for being “too slow” in the opening two races of the season, the 23-year-old produced his best result since the race in Emilia Romagna in April 2022.

And his display forced Marko, who oversees the Red Bull development programme, into a dramatic u-turn. Although he seemed happy to praise Tsunoda for his performance over the whole weekend at Albert Park, not just on Sunday.

“Yuki ran perfectly from the first lap on Friday and set very consistent and good times in today’s race,” he said. “When Nico Hulkenberg attacked, he immediately countered. I think we have confirmed that Yuki is an absolutely mature driver.”

Marko’s words take on greater significance amid an under-par display from Sergio Perez. The Mexican is out of contract at the end of the 2024 campaign, and failed to take advantage of teammate Max Verstappen’s retirement by labouring to fifth place.

Ricciardo meanwhile, endured a torrid time in his home Grand Prix. ‘The Honey Badger’ suffered a disaster in qualifying, failing to make it through Q1 after his best lap time was deleted by race officials.

He did recover to finish 12th in the race, but failed to earn a first point of the campaign. On his display, Marko added: “He’s struggling, we’ll have to see. I think Ricciardo needs a safe and confident car. I hope the team can give him that so he can at least be on par with Yuki.”

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